I know we’ve been talking a lot about books lately, but there are so many good books coming out of the Catholic blogosphere right now! Cari Donaldson’s Pope Awesome, Jen Fulwiler’s Something Other Than God, Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching from Rest, and now The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home by David Clayton and Like Mother Like Daughter’s Leila Lawler (and illustrations by LMLD’s Deirdre Folley).
When Daniel and I wrote Feast!, our book of reflections and recipes for the Christian Year, we wanted to offer a resource for making the kitchen and the dinner table connected to the seasons and to our Catholic faith. Our hope is that it helps orient the kitchen and the dinner table toward faith. But the kitchen and the dining room aren’t the only rooms in the house! The practice of faith in the home, the domestic church, should be centered in the sacred space of prayer. And to learn how to do that, I need some help! Here’s where The Little Oratory comes to the rescue.
As a convert to the faith, I often find myself overwhelmed sorting through resources to learn both the big picture ideas about prayer in the domestic church and what the practical application of praying in the home would look like. The Little Oratory beautifully articulates the theological significance of centering the home in prayer, but it doesn’t stop there. It gives practical advice like how to teach little ones to participate in the Rosary right down to ways to find an affordable cloth to place on your family altar and how to launder it.
Clayton and Lawler (known as Auntie Leila around here) teach you how to create a “little oratory” which is a physical spot in your home in the form of a family altar or an icon corner but they also articulate the idea of making “room” in your home for prayer.
We’ve had a little family altar for awhile now, but I learned so much about cultivating that space and about prayer in the home. Here’s what our altar looks like:
I’ve been meaning to get a Noli Me Tangere image to balance the Madonna of the Book by Botticelli, but after reading The Little Oratory, I’m inspired to make lots of improvements! (Oh, and did I mention that in the back of the book there are beautiful iconographic images you can frame and use for your little oratory?)
The Little Oratory a rich resource, but not overwhelming or pushy. After reading it, my response was, “yes! we can do this!” But I also don’t feel pressured to try everything at once.
I was most intrigued by the explanations of introducing the Divine Office into domestic life. And I really appreciate that Vespers, Compline and the other “hours” of the Divine Office can be prayed together and shared with our Christian brothers and sisters from other traditions. How ideal would it be to join together at least once a week with Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox friends to worship and pray in that beautiful way?
I am also convicted and inspired by Auntie Leila’s exhortation to cultivate order in the home. If you’re familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality types, I am the P of all Ps. Organization? Order? I’m sorry, my brain doesn’t work that way. But I know it’s something I need to nurture in my home. Especially when I’m not sick from pregnancy or exhausted during the postpartum days and have enough energy to maintain our home! We already created some order in the kids room and I knew Auntie Leila would NOT APPROVE of the clutter around the sink which should be a space of contemplation for the dish washer, so I remedied that, too:
This is a book I’ll be turning to for years and thanks to Sophia Institute Press, I get to give away a copy of The Little Oratory to a lucky reader AND a copy of Father of the Family by Clayton Barbeau. So lets have a little Father’s Day giveaway fun! (If you’re reading this post in a feed reader, you may need to click over to the actual site to see the giveaway widget.) The giveaway is only available for readers in the U.S. or Canada (due to shipping costs). It ends Sunday, June 8th at midnight so that there’s enough time to ship it to the winner before Father’s Day!
And one more thing! Remember the giveaway from Drawstrings? (It closes tomorrow night, so be sure to enter right away for your chance to win one of the custom made bags!) Wanda of Drawstrings has created a special drawstring bag just the right size for your copy of The Little Oratory! Just contact her through her Etsy site to order one!
Disclosure: Review and giveaway copies of The Little Oratory were complimentary and Sophia Institute is a Carrots ad sponsor. As always, I ONLY promote books that I have read and loved and am excited to share with you! (To learn more about advertising or sponsoring giveaways at Carrots for Michaelmas, you can view my advertising page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)